The Committee was briefed on the establishment and functioning of the Schools Evaluation Authority in a virtual meeting along with the Collaboration Schools Programme.
The Schools Evaluation Authority outlined how it carries out its evaluations, as well as the evaluation tool used. The aim of the evaluations is to keep the Provincial Minister informed about the quality of education provision at schools. A report with empirical findings is compiled and published and recommendations are made.
The Collaboration Schools Programme emphasises quality education outcomes, accountability, and transparency. A distinction is drawn between Donor-funded and Collaboration schools.
The Department said the quality of governance has improved significantly. Quality education is at the heart of governance, and the SGBs are monitoring the implementation of high quality school improvement plans.
Members of the Committee wanted clarity on the difference between donor schools and collaboration schools. Members also asked if the SEA informed the Minister about relevant issues which arise in schools; if teachers are given an opportunity to contribute towards evaluation reports; if the collaborations schools programme will be extended to other districts within the province; and why children have to attend a school close to the area if parents can afford a better school.
Presentation on the Schools Evaluation Authority
Ms Karen Bydell, Chief Evaluation Officer: Schools Evaluation Authority (SEA), briefed the Committee on the establishment and functions of the Schools Evaluation Authority.
She said the Authority is governed by the Western Cape Provincial Schools Education Act. The vision is to improve schools in the Western Cape through strengthening school accountability. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) provided administrative support from 2020, with two lead evaluators, and two evaluators, appointed in January 2020. The total staff complement is seven. An annual programme was developed in 2019, but it had to be revised because of the impact of COVID.
Regarding the functioning of the SEA, she said the Chief Evaluator has the following function to keep the Provincial Minister informed about the quality of education provision at schools, and to compile and publish reports as prescribed. This includes empirical findings and recommendations for improvement.
The Chief Evaluator may on two days notice to the District Director, Principal, and Governing Body, obtain access and evaluate a school.
The Chief Evaluator may, without notice, enter a school and seize financial records, statements, and documents, if there is prima facie proof of financial mismanagement. It may also do so if there is reasonable suspicion such records will be hidden, destroyed, or tampered with, if given notice. The Chief Evaluator may also inspect a school, without notice, if there are reasonable grounds to believe it is necessary for the effective performance by the SEA.
The Provincial Minister may authorise the Chief Evaluator to perform additional duties or exercise additional power if the Minister has reason to believe the Chief Evaluator has the capacity to perform those duties, or if it is in the public interest for the Chief Evaluator to do so. The Minister may also revoke the Authority given to the Chief Evaluator.
The Provincial Minister will provide the SEA with general support, and designate officials of the WCED to provide administrative support to the SEA. The Minister will consider the findings, recommendations, and implement appropriate measures to facilitate improvement.
The purpose of the SEA is to conduct independent school evaluations over two days, and focus on the areas which matter most. These areas are Learner Achievement; Teaching and Learning; Behaviour and Safety; Leadership and Management; Governance; Parents and Community.
The SEA submits reports to five key stakeholders: the Principal; Governing Body; District Director; Head of Department; and the Provincial Minister of Education. The SEA will develop a parent report, and create and maintain a website. It will report to the Provincial Minister of Education on an annual basis.
The School Evaluation Framework was revised in July 2020, in light of the current pandemic. The School decided it will be unfair to look at Learner Achievement. The Revised School Evaluation Framework looks at the following: Teaching and Learning; Learning Opportunities; Behaviour and Safety; Following all health and Safety Protocols. This is based on the Department of Basic Education Standard Operating Procedures, as well as the WCED Guidelines; Leadership and Management.
Presentation on Collaboration Schools
Mr Archie Lewis, Deputy Director-General: Institutional Development and Coordination, Western Cape Education Department, presented on Collaboration Schools. The Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Act, 4 of 2008 is the legislation governing Collaboration Schools.
The Act makes provision for collaboration schools and donor-funded schools as additional types of public schools. It also provides for the Provincial Minister of Education to declare existing schools as collaboration schools.
The need for this innovation results from a need to legislate and regulate a policy development on Collaboration Schools, and the School Evaluation Authority. There is an emphasis on quality education outcomes, accountability, and transparency.
While the professional management is still carried out by the principal, the key differences with the traditional school models are: All new staff vacancies (including principal) are appointed by SGB, unless the staff member is already on WCED’s payroll; the school operating partner consists of 50% of the SGB; and the South African Schools Act and other legislation are still applicable at these schools.
New vacant posts at the school are converted to the school’s staff establishment as SGB posts. It is funded through a transfer payment to the SGB. Payment of transfers to collaboration schools is based on the collaboration post level funding for vacant posts. This is done according to the approved staff establishment, and is determined by the WCED in accordance with the post provisioning model.
Ms Khayakazi Namfu, Programme Director: Public School Partnerships, presented on Donor Funding. She said the Jakes Gerwel expenditure includes R96 million infrastructure expenditure.
For further statistics see attached presentation
Ms Kubeshini Govender, Provincial RCL Coordinator, presented on the learner performance at collaboration schools. She said the quality of governance improved significantly. The quality of education is at the heart of governance and the SGBs are monitoring the implementation of high quality school improvement plans.
Parents took decisive steps to demand quality education for their children. School Operating Partners are freeing the school management from administrative tasks to focus on instructional leadership, and teacher development.
She said it is normal to see a slight dip in performance from schools which are new to the programme. This is the case with Boundary Primary. There is a cumulative improvement in Maths and Languages across grades three and six.
For statistics see attached presentation.
Mr G Bosman (DA) asked if the Committee can have a copy of the SEA regulations. He wanted to know what plans there are to institutionalise the Collaboration Schools model.
Mr K Sayed (ANC) wanted to know what the relationship with Circuit Managers is like. He asked if there is a requirement for a School Operating Partner to be a non-profit, and if not, why not.
Mr R Allen (DA) wanted to know if the SEA already accessed a school without notice to seize financial records. He also asked if the School Operating Partners actually have voting rights or if it is co-opted.
Mr F Christians (ACDP), wanted clarity on the recommendation about children attending a school close to the area. He asked what if the parents can afford to send the child to a better school. He also wanted to know the difference between a donor school and a collaboration school.
Mr Bosman wanted to know about the performance of schools managed by the Public Schools Funder Donor Group. He asked what type of support is provided to learners during COVID. He asked why there is a dip when a school joins the pogramme. He also wanted to know what the parent report entails.
Mr M Kama (ANC) wanted to know how the SEA will bring attention to issues which need to be implemented. He asked if the Department is moving towards a standardisation of what facilities should be at a school. He wanted to know if the input of teachers also formed part of the evaluation.
Ms Bydell said she will send a copy of the regulations to the Committee.
Regarding the relationship with Circuit Managers, she said the SEA is independent. A report is submitted to the Provincial Minister, and the Minister submits it to the Head of Department. This way the SEA’s independence is maintained.
There has been no need to access a school without notice because there was no whistleblower, or prima facie proof of financial mismanagement.
The recommendation for a child to attend a school close to home is not an indictment on those parents who can afford to send their children to other schools. It does not undermine the parent’s right to choose. The point is, children leave home early, and come back very late. Parents pay a lot for transport, all this in pursuit of a perceived ‘better’ education, when a better-performing school could be in the area.
She said the parent report will be the same as a final report, but a bit more user-friendly.
Once there is a finding which is irregular, it is brought to the attention of the Provincial Minister of Education. The SEA does not compare schools, but recommends according to what is found at the school under evaluation.
Teachers have an opportunity to voice concerns during interviews carried out.
Responding to a question about the institutionlisation of the collaboration schools model, Mr Lewis said the Collaboration Schools sit in the branch of Institutional Development Co-ordination. It is situated within the Governance and Management Directorate, because the independent schools already sit on this Directorate.
Mr Lewis said the difference between collaboration schools and donor schools is, in collaboration schools, the donor will not be part of running the School. The donor is very actively involved in a donor school.
School Operating Partners are not co-opted, and enjoy full voting rights. Before, a stalemate in voting happened. The matter was resolved at a full parents meeting.
Ms Namfu said the dip in performance can be attributed to the schools adjusting to the processes and systems which form part of the collaboration school. She also said the trend with the collaboration school is better than the national and provincial averages. Regarding support offered to learners, she said the Department worked with teachers to upskill the teachers on how to engage with learners during COVID. The Department provided additional psychosocial support and food during lockdown.
Mr Sayed said the collaboration schools intervention was supposed to be a pilot which ran for five years, and this ran out on 1 September 2020. He wanted to know what factors went into determining this is the most effective programme for schools and learners. He asked what monitoring process the Department undertook to ensure the collaboration schools interventions are relevant and successful.
The Chairperson said there are no collaboration schools in the Eden Karoo, West Coast, and Overberg. She asked if there are any schools in the pipeline for these districts.
Mr Lewis said the pilot phase was necessary while awaiting enactment of the Act. The Act means the pilot phase is no longer necessary.
Schools and SGBs must ask to become collaboration schools.
Ms Govender said there is not a lot of donor interest in the West Coast, but donors from the Eden Karoo, and Overberg districts asked to become involved.
The Department of Education was excused.
The Committee requested an evaluation of Collaboration Schools from the WCED.
Members also requested a comparative report between collaboration schools and traditional schools.
Members want to know which partners are involved in the schools.
Members noted the SEA only seems to be accountable to the Provincial Minister of Education.
The Chairperson recommended workshopping the SEA, the Act, and regulations, and then to address the accountability question. She further recommended visiting three primary schools, along with three high schools.
The Chairperson confirmed Members received the programme for the oversight visit week. Members confirmed receipt.
The Chairperson thanked everyone.
The meeting was adjourned.
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